How many packs of ramen, instant oatmeal, and protein bars does it take to assemble a ton? Enough to fill a box truck, according to the Trash to Treasure team that collected donations left by students while clearing out their dorm rooms this month.
“Trash to Treasure diverted 2282.8 pounds of food from the landfill during UT Spring move-out,” said student leader Libby Griswold, an environmental science major in the Jackson School of Geosciences who hails from Denver and Austin. “While we picked up more typical items like bedding, clothing and electronics, we also filled a box truck with food and brought it to the new campus food pantry and career closet, UT Outpost.”
Trash to Treasure is a recycling and resale program that has been part of the Campus Environmental Center since 2005. The goal of this student group is divert reusable, donated items from the landfill through large collection drives in dorms at the end of each semester. After sorting and weighing the items, Trash to Treasure sells goods back to the UT community during an open-air market. Each item is $1, and items not sold are donated to off-campus nonprofits, charities, or recycling companies.
“At the end of each semester, we set out donation bins, and people who are moving out of the dorms or just tidying up put things that they were planning to throw away in the bins,” said Jazzmyne Herrington in The Daily Texan last November. Herrington, the second student leader for Trash to Treasure, was in the middle of graduation and GRE’s while she and Libby were collecting items in mid-May.
Food has often been donated in the bins. In the past—before UT Outpost opened—these items were brought to the Central Texas Food Bank. This most recent Spring Move Out was the first time that separate bins encouraged donation of food, and the response was enormous: the volume of edible items was more than double when compared to previous years.
“We really want to thank Trash to Treasures for bringing items to the UT Outpost,” said Kelly Soucy, Director of Student Emergency Services. “Many longhorns will be able to be fed by the generous donation and hard work of students.”